American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson has received a month-long suspension after testing positive for marijuana – and is set to miss the Tokyo Olympics.
The 21-year-old won the 100m at the US Olympic Trials in Oregon in June and earlier this year set the sixth-fastest time in history.
But the Texan’s positive test means her qualifying result has been erased.
“Don’t judge me, because I’m human I just happen to run a little faster,” she told NBC’s Today show.
The athlete tested positive during the Olympic Trials, where she finished well off the field in 10.86 seconds.
The trials took place just a week after her birth mother died, and Richardson explained that she used cannabis as a way to cope.
“I apologize for the fact that I didn’t even know how to control my emotions or deal with this during this time,” she told the American TV station on Friday.
As Richardson gave her interview, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) announced that it had accepted the suspension for what it called “substance of abuse” rather than to improve performance.
“The rules are clear, but it’s heartbreaking on many levels,” said Travis Tygart, Usada chief executive.
“I hope that her acceptance of responsibility and her apologies will be an important example to all of us that we can successfully overcome our regrettable decisions, despite the costly consequences of them for her.”
The ban runs from the date of his provisional suspension, June 28.
In theory, she could be free to compete in the Olympics as her suspension ends before the Tokyo track and field program begins on July 30.
But her test results were devastated, and Usada said her eligibility in Tokyo would be a decision by US Track and Field (USATF) and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
When asked if she still hopes to make it to the Games, Richardson said she will focus on herself and suggested she will not compete in Tokyo.
“I apologize very much if I let you down – and I did. This will be the last time the United States comes home without a gold in the 100m,” she added.
“I’m 21, I’m very young, I have a lot of Games left to play and a lot of talent that supports me because everything I do comes naturally to me, no steroids or whatever.
“This incident was about marijuana, so once my sanction is lifted I’ll be back. Next time I get on the track I’ll be ready for any anti-doping agencies that come and [they will] get everything they need because it will never happen again. “
The USATF has said it will support the sprinter.
“Sha’Carri Richardson’s situation is incredibly unhappy and devastating for everyone involved,” he said. “The health and well-being of the athletes continues to be one of the most critical priorities for the USATF and we will work with Sha’Carri to ensure she has sufficient resources to overcome any issues. mental health now and in the future. “
Cannabis is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and carries a ban of up to four years.
However, this can be reduced to three months if athletes can show that the intake was unrelated to athletic performance.
Any ban can be further reduced, to one month, if the athletes agree to a treatment program.